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The Best (and Worst) Cichlid Tank Mates to Consider

The Best (and Worst) Cichlid Tank Mates to Consider

This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addtion, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cichlids have a reputation for being fairly aggressive fish. All cichlids have the potential to be aggressive, but some of them are going to be so aggressive that it will be a nuisance.

Since cichlids are usually at least semi-aggressive fish, it can be tough to keep them in community tanks. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, though.

There are fish out there that are compatible with cichlids. You simply need to choose the right tank mates for your fish so they will do fine in a community tank setting.

No matter what type of fish you’re caring for, it’s always necessary to research compatibility. If you don’t, it’d be easy to run into complications such as the fish fighting or killing each other.

Keep reading to learn about the best cichlid tank mates. You’ll also learn about some fish that you shouldn’t keep with cichlids.

Are Cichlids Community Fish?

Cichlids can be community fish if you want them to be. However, there are some cichlids that generally aren’t recommended for community tanks.

For example, flowerhorn cichlids are so territorial that they won’t make good community tank members. The aggression level and territorial nature of flowerhorn cichlids will only create problems in a community fish tank.

Other cichlids such as African cichlids can be placed in community aquariums. To have things go well, it’s necessary to research good tank mates for them.

Most cichlids will be able to be put in community tanks so long as you research the right tank mates. You need to look things up based on the type of cichlid that you’re caring for.

If you plan things out carefully, you can have a good experience with cichlids in a community tank. It all comes down to doing the necessary research.

Can Cichlids Live with Other Fish?

As mentioned above, cichlids can be community tank fish if you plan things out the right way. However, there are some fish that cannot live with other fish.

You might want to look up specific information about the type of cichlid fish that you own. Most common cichlids that are kept in home aquariums can be kept with other fish, but you need to keep them with compatible fish.

Putting cichlids in a tank with incompatible fish will lead to big problems. The aggression of the cichlids could make life tough for their tank mates.

In some cases, the cichlids might attack or harass the other fish. It’s possible that certain cichlids might kill other fish in the tank, too.

It’s easy to see why you need to pick tank mates for cichlids carefully. Now that you know this, it’s time to learn about which fish can stay in fish tanks with cichlids.

Can Cichlids Live with Goldfish?

Two Goldfish

Goldfish are popular fish that many people love. Can they thrive if kept in a community tank with cichlids?

Generally, it’s not a good idea to keep these fish with cichlids. They will get bullied and hurt by larger cichlids.

Keeping them with smaller cichlids likely won’t be a good idea either. If you want to keep these fish in your home, it’d be better to put them in a separate tank.

They simply don’t do well when put in community tanks with aggressive types of fish. Goldfish are good options for many beginners, but they won’t work as community tank mates for cichlids.

Can Cichlids Live with Angelfish?

Close Up of Zebra Angelfish

Angelfish are cichlids as well. You might not know this, but angelfish are probably the most popular and common type of cichlid fish that you will find at pet stores.

These are somewhat small cichlids that are very easy to care for. Angelfish are hardy and they’re great choices for beginners who are just getting into keeping fish at home.

You can’t keep angelfish with other cichlids, though. Generally, mixing different types of cichlids will be a terrible idea.

They don’t get along and they see other fish that are similar to them as a threat. This will lead to fighting and the angelfish might even get killed if you put them in a tank with larger cichlids.

There are some enthusiasts who have been able to get more peaceful varieties of African cichlids to live with angelfish. However, it’s not something that’s recommended.

You want to make good choices and protect the fish that you purchase. It’d be better to keep angelfish in a separate tank from other cichlids.

Can Cichlids Live with Discus?

Yellow Face Discus

Discus fish are another genus of cichlids. As such, the information about angelfish mostly applies here.

There are some dwarf cichlid varieties that might be able to live with discus fish. Anecdotal evidence suggests that discus fish can live alongside blue ram cichlids.

They might do fine with kribensis cichlids as well. If you have a very large fish tank, you might be able to keep discus fish with angelfish.

However, it’d be safer to avoid this situation. You can find tank mates for discus fish that are much more compatible.

It’s also worth noting that discus fish are some of the toughest cichlids to care for. They’re a bit needy and they don’t have the same hardy reputation as most other types of popular cichlids.

Can Cichlids Live with Tetras?

Lone Tetra

Generally, putting tetras in a community tank with cichlids will be a poor choice. These fish are a bit on the small side and will get bullied by cichlids.

Cichlids are usually considered to be bully fish. They will stress tetras and make it difficult for them to live.

Larger cichlids would likely eat tetras due to them being too small. Smaller types of cichlids will not be able to eat tetras, but they still might cause them stress.

You can find better tank mate options for cichlids than tetras. Tetras are great fish, but they aren’t recommended for community tanks that contain cichlids.

Can Cichlids Live with Oscars?

Several Oscars Swimming in a Planted Aquarium

Oscars are somewhat large types of cichlids. Most of these fish will grow to be between eleven and twelve inches in captivity.

However, there are some Oscars that will grow to be several inches larger than that. Since they’re cichlids, it’s a poor idea to put them in community tanks with other cichlids.

Generally, they will wind up being aggressive toward other cichlids. They might even try to kill other cichlids depending on the situation.

You’ll need a large tank to keep cichlids in your home, too. It’s said that they require a 75-gallon fish tank at a minimum.

For many, Oscars won’t be the most practical type of cichlid to own. However, they are interesting fish that have the potential to live for a long time.

These fish can live between ten and twenty years when cared for optimally. If you want a large and impressive fish for your tank, it might be worth looking into buying an Oscar and then picking appropriate tank mates for it.

Can Cichlids Live with Gouramis?

A Group of Assorted Types of Gouramis in Tank

It’s a poor idea to put gouramis in a community tank with cichlids. The cichlids would likely eat or harm the gouramis.

Larger cichlids will be way too dangerous to even consider putting in a community aquarium with gouramis. They would absolutely decimate the gouramis in the tank.

Smaller types of cichlids such as dwarf cichlids might not be so problematic. In a large tank, it might be possible to get gouramis and dwarf cichlids to live somewhat peacefully.

However, it’s not a recommended choice to make. You can’t guarantee the safety of the fish if you try to put them in a tank with cichlids.

It’d be wiser to avoid choosing gouramis as tank mates for cichlids. You don’t want to choose fish that might come to harm.

What Bottom Feeders Can Live with Cichlids?

Pleco Swimming with Various Objects in the Tank

Perhaps you want some bottom feeders for your community fish tank. What types of bottom feeders can live with cichlids?

Plecos should work out nicely. You’ll find that plecos are generally peaceful fish that mind their own business and don’t become territorial.

These fish will stay at the bottom of the tank and do their own thing. They should make great bottom feeders for tanks that contain African cichlids.

Clown loaches should be an appropriate choice to make, too. These fish work well with cichlids because they like the same water temperature as the cichlids.

You can put clown loaches in fish tanks with larger cichlids such as Oscars. Oscars will leave clown loaches alone and won’t really think about attacking them.

Zebra loaches are good options when looking for tank mates for African cichlids. These are peaceful fish that stick to the bottom of the fish tank and don’t bother other community tank members.

Cichlids will leave zebra loaches alone so long as you aren’t putting them in tanks with huge cichlids. They work out well with African cichlids and could be good choices for some other cichlids that are around the same size.

You should have quite a few options when it comes to finding bottom feeders for your cichlid tank. Just be sure to pick an appropriate bottom feeder based on the cichlid that you own.

Best Tank Mates for Angelfish

Angelfish in a Community Tank

Angelfish are likely the most common cichlid type. You might be most interested in finding good tank mates for them.

There are many good options when you’re looking to keep angelfish in a community tank setting. If you want bottom feeders to go with angelfish, cory catfish will be the best choice.

Cory cats are peaceful bottom-dwelling fish that won’t bother the angelfish at all. The angels will leave them be and you’ll be happy with the situation.

Mollies are also good tank mates for angelfish. These are fish that can add a lot of charm to the tank.

Platies can work well with angelfish and so can dwarf gouramis. You can even have boesemani rainbow fish in community tanks with angelfish.

Best Tank Mates for Oscars

Oscar Fish and Parrot Fish in a Planted Community Aquarium

Oscars are pretty big and you need to pick larger fish as tank mates for them. The tank mates need to be able to withstand the hulking nature of these large cichlids.

Various types of catfish can work out okay when put in fish tanks with cichlids. Clown loaches will also be great choices that the Oscars will largely ignore.

Silver dollar fish are commonly kept in community aquariums with Oscars. They’re pretty fish that can add a lot to the overall look of the tank.

Red-tailed sharks are well worth considering. These fish are a type of carp fish that will look great in the tank while also being able to get along fine with Oscars.

Cichlasoma fish are large fish that can withstand being tank mates with Oscars. There are various types, but they should all get along just fine with Oscars in a community aquarium.

Best Tank Mates for African Cichlids

Multiple African Cichlids

African cichlids are pretty easy to find tank mates for overall. You’ll have a number of great options.

There are many bottom feeders that get along nicely with these fish. You can put plecos with your African cichlids and get great results.

Zebra loaches can also live peacefully alongside African cichlids. Red-tailed sharks can do fine in fish tanks with African cichlids, too.

Giant danios fish are known to be good tank mates for African cichlids. These are great fish that are well worth looking into when you want to add variety to the community tank.

Leopard bushfish will get along with African cichlids and so will flying fox fish. Murray river rainbowfish might be a fun addition to the community tank as well.

Best Tank Mates for Discus Fish

Discus in Community Tank

Discus fish can get along with many types of fish in a community tank setting. One of the most common tank mates chosen for discus fish is the kuhli loach.

Kuhli loaches make great community fish. You won’t have to worry about them fighting with the discus fish.

The same can be said for sterbai cory catfish. They make great bottom feeder options for tanks with discus fish.

Siamese algae eaters can get along fine in community tanks with discus fish. You can even put assassin snails in the tank with these fish if you’d like to.

So long as you ensure that the fish has enough room, it’s not too difficult to keep discus fish in a community tank. Just remember to monitor the water parameters to keep the discus fish healthy.

Best Tank Mates for Convict Cichlids

Convict Cichlid in Community Tank

Convict cichlids are neat fish that have a striped pattern. The pattern makes them look like they’re wearing old-fashioned prison clothes.

There are some really great tank mate choices for these fish. They can be kept in tanks with good bottom dwellers such as plecos.

You can also put them in tanks with pictus catfish. So you have good choices for bottom-feeding tank mates.

Various large barb fish will work fine in tanks with convict cichlids. You could also buy some clown loaches for the community tank.

Silver dollar fish will look stunning in a community aquarium alongside convict cichlids. Blue acara fish will be another choice that you should look into.

Best Tank Mates for Ram Cichlids

Group of Male and Female Bolivian Ram Cichlids Swimming in a Community Aquarium

Ram cichlids should get along nicely with guppies. You will have a pretty easy time finding community tank mates for these dwarf cichlids.

It’s common for ram cichlids to be kept in community tanks with dwarf gouramis, too. Cory cats will be the ideal choice when you’re looking for bottom feeders.

Clown loaches are also going to look great in a community tank setting with these cichlids. Silver dollar fish should do fine with the larger German blue ram cichlids.

Rubber lip plecos might be a fun choice to make as well. Even honey gouramis are known to live just fine with ram cichlids.

Generally, ram cichlids are some of the easiest cichlids to find tank mates for. You won’t have as many huge aggression issues when dealing with these fish.

Best Tank Mates for Jewel Cichlids

Jewel Cichlid

Jewel cichlids are fairly popular fish that you might be interested in. Give these fish plenty of space if you want to keep them in a community tank.

They seem to get along well with many bottom-dwelling fish. The usual suspects such as plecos and clown loaches will be good choices for fish tanks that contain jewel cichlids.

Another good bottom feeder to consider is the synodontis catfish. These are neat fish that could be a lot of fun to care for in the community tank.

Giant danios fish are good tank mates for jewel cichlids. So are rainbowfish and leopard bushfish.

Both electric blue acaras and red-tailed sharks are common sights in community tanks with jewel cichlids. You can see that there are many excellent choices.

Best Tank Mates for Keyhole Cichlids

Two Keyhole Cichlids

Keyhole cichlids are considered to be peaceful cichlids overall. They’re a lot less aggressive than most other types of cichlids.

For the most part, these fish should be kept in community tanks with peaceful bottom-dwelling fish. Cory catfish are likely the most well-known tank mates for these cichlids.

Suckermouth catfish will also work out perfectly fine. If you want to try something different, it’s worth going with hatchetfish.

Pencilfish are good tank mates for keyhole cichlids as well. You basically just want to stay away from fish that are too small.

The size of the keyhole cichlid means that it’ll eat smaller fish such as tetras. Keep this in mind and only choose appropriate tank mates.

Best Tank Mates for Kribensis Cichlids

Kribensis Cichlid in Community Tank

Kribensis cichlids are another peaceful type of cichlid that you might be interested in. These relatively non-aggressive cichlids work great in community fish tank settings.

They can get along fine with many types of fish. Of course, they are good tank mates for bottom-dwelling fish such as cory catfish.

It’s also common to keep them in community aquariums with kuhli loaches. The two fish will largely leave each other alone in the tank.

Rosy barbs are good tank mate options as well. Some other types of barbs might work okay as well, but rosy barbs are the best choice.

Bristlenose plecos work perfectly as tank mates for kribensis cichlids. So do the beautiful harlequin rasbora fish.

How to Limit Cichlid Aggression

If you’re still worried about cichlid aggression, you should know that there are things you can do to limit issues. You can take steps to try to keep cichlid aggression in check.

The most important thing to do is to focus on buying a big enough tank. Cichlids get more aggressive and territorial when you put them in tanks that are too small.

Trying to cram a community aquarium full of fish isn’t the best idea. You want all of the fish to have more than enough room to thrive, and this means picking a tank that is more than big enough for the fish that you wish to purchase.

It can also be helpful to have hiding spots in the tank. Put plants in the tank and other hiding spots that fish can utilize when they’re feeling the need to get away.

This gives fish an opportunity to flee instead of having to fight with the cichlids. You should do well if you have plenty of hiding spots.

Also, you should limit the number of male cichlids in the tank. Often, it’s recommended to keep only one male cichlid in the tank with two or three females.

Male cichlids are known to fight each other. The fighting can get pretty bad and such issues are exacerbated if males are kept in small tanks.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned about the best tank mates for various types of cichlids. Some fish simply won’t be compatible with cichlids, but you do have options.

When you want to put cichlids in a community fish tank, it’s important to pick the best tank mates that you can. You must research compatible fish for things to go well.

Now that you’ve learned about the options that you have for many of the most popular cichlids, it’ll be easier to decide what to do. Move forward with full confidence and be sure to take care of all of the fish to the best of your ability.

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